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I'm trying to translate a Mencius quote (for googleability: 穷则独善其身,达则兼济天下) to English. It roughly translates "when you are poor, commit to your own welfare; when you are prosperous, commit to the welfare of the world". How can this expression be improved to give a "golden sentence" feel to it?

Thanks!

  • Aside from the rough translation, what are your thoughts so far? What would make it a "golden sentence"? Give examples of other "golden sentences". – Victor Bazarov Nov 1 '15 at 14:42
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"When you are struggling, take care of yourself; when you are prosperous, take care of the world."

I like struggling/prosperous better than poor/rich. Struggling/prosperous could refer to a farmer with ample harvest. Poor/rich strongly implies monetary wealth.

when you are struggling / commit to your own welfare

The two phrases just don't seem to balance. "when you are struggling" is very simple wording but "commit to your own welfare" sounds more educated.

  • "A farmer with ample harvest": is he prosperous or struggling? I am uncertain either way. One without the means to collect and/or store it all could still be called "struggling"... – Victor Bazarov Nov 1 '15 at 14:46

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